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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

HISTORY OF WESTERN EDUCATION

for this stage of education remained somewhat vague. They
included, on the one hand, the mastery of the languages by the
reading of familiar material and the subsequent study of gram-
matical rules—a method which he regarded as so efficacious that
he assigned only one year to a modern language, two years to
Latin, one year to Greek, and six months to Hebrew; and
simultaneously with this, on the other hand, the special study
of grammar, natural philosophy, mathematics, ethics, dialectic
and rhetoric in six successive years. The scheme is chiefly of
theoretical interest as an indication of the course Comenius
would have tried to follow in the attempt to realize the pansophic
ideal.

The university, in his opinion, should make provision for the
study of every branch of human knowledge and should be reserved
for those " select intellects " who had proved their fitness to
profit by it in a public examination at the end of the gymnasial
course. The more exacting demands of advanced study at this
stage would compel most students to confine themselves to the
particular subject for which their natural gifts most evidently
fitted them. Only those of quite exceptional ability should be
permitted to pursue all branches of learning.

It was a great misfortune for succeeding centuries that in spite
of a combination of philosophical insight and practical wisdom
almost unique in the literature of education, the greater part of
the didactic works of Comenius passed into almost complete
oblivion with the death of their author. Schoolboys went on
conning the Orbis Pictus and the Janua for several generations,
but the great principles they illustrated were forgotten by educators
till they were rediscovered independently in the Nineteenth
Century by Froebel. For this unhappy state of matters the ex-
planation is partly to be found in the fact that the most masterly
expositions of his views were not made accessible by separate
publication and were lost to sight in the mass of his collected
writings. But probably a deeper reason is that his work was done
in unsettled times in connection with a dying Church, and that
it was never possible for him to create any permanent educational
institutions capable of transmitting his principles and methods to
later times.

But though Comenius exercised no direct influence on subse-
quent education except through his two famous school books,